Morken: A few tips for gaining hunting permission
It was still snowing in Alexandria when I got in the car to head to North Dakota on April 15 for a trip that I had been planning ever since last year's hunting season ended.
My intentions were to go the first weekend in April, but frigid temperatures put a halt on those plans. I thought about using the snow as an excuse not to go again, but it was time to sink or swim.
The goal for this trip to North Dakota was to get permission on some private land for the upcoming whitetail bow hunting season. In the end, I put aside the nerves, knocked on a few doors and was able to secure permission on almost 500 acres. Much of that land is tillable, but I was thrilled to find a spot like this.
It's a great starting point. I still have a few people I want to talk to in the area, but that first permission is so important when it comes to boosting the morale.
I was turned down by two other landowners who hunted themselves and told "maybe" by another. Those are pretty good percentages. Here's why I think I was able to find some success in locking up a new piece of land to hunt.
Don't wing it
Most people get nervous when it comes to asking for permission. I'm no different.
Nerves are for sure the greatest obstacle to overcome during this whole process. I have found that the best way to alleviate that is by making sure you are prepared.
I spent many hours over the last few months looking at specific pieces of land I wanted to target through my OnX Hunt Map on my phone. My membership through OnX gives me private landowner information like names and tax addresses. That's invaluable. I correctly called by name every person who came to their door. That sends a good first impression.
I knew what I wanted to say while introducing myself, even practiced it in my head on the way there. Being prepared helps us exude more confidence, which can't hurt.
Search for connections
Part of being prepared can also mean searching for connections to the landowners you might be approaching.
I was able to find that connection through Jeff Beach, my former editor-in-chief, along with a friend who grew up in the area I was targeting in North Dakota. Sometimes those connections come through good friends or family, sometimes they are simply through acquaintances.
I was shooting my bow next to a guy on the range at Archery Country in St. Cloud this winter when we got to talking. He asked if I had any big hunts planned for the 2018 season, so I told him about my goal of finding new land to hunt in North Dakota. It just so happened that he knew the area I was looking at and suggested a farmer to talk to. That family was unfortunately not home when I went to their house this past weekend, but it is definitely a stop I'll be making again on my next trip out there.
Be willing to talk
I have seen people rush the process when it comes to gaining hunting permission.
A couple buddies of mine and I were hunting in North Dakota about eight years ago. We were outside on the farm site when a guy in his early-20s came up the driveway. He was checking to see if he could bow hunt my buddy's farm, but while asking he forgot to introduce himself and jumped straight into asking if he could hunt. That doesn't leave the best first impression.
I get to the point pretty quickly, but not without introducing myself, saying where I'm from and how I ended up coming to their place. I try my best to make eye contact right from the start.
First impressions are huge for both the landowner and the person seeking permission. I drove up the driveway on the farm I got access to and could tell that this person would be easy to talk to. She was immediately friendly just in the tone of her voice.
We chatted for a little bit outside before she invited me in. It is calving season and her husband had been up all night working. He was napping at the time, so we ended up talking for about a half an hour before he woke up. The wife had already given me an indication that it would be OK if I hunted this fall, and her husband confirmed that after we all talked for a while.
I was probably there for close to an hour. Don't rush the conversation if it's going well. I want any landowner who might let me hunt to know who I am as a hunter and as a person.
I did not end up handing any of these out, but I had written out a cover letter to give landowners as a way to tell them a little bit about myself. The first instinct for many when a stranger knocks on their door asking to hunt is to say no. It's just easier that way. The more they know, the more it can put their mind at ease.
How important is it to you?
Like anything in life, successfully finding new places to hunt often comes down to how much a person wants it.
Be willing to outwork other hunters. It took a commitment for me to succeed in finding land. I drove hours through snow. Had to get over those butterflies in my stomach, but finding an opportunity for my dad and I to hunt together in a neighboring state was important to me.
We will hear "no" more than we hear "yes" when trying to gain permission, but it is not hopeless. You can run into great people who are fun to talk to and willing to let hunters on their land. Don't give up. It's not a fruitless effort.
By Eric Morken
Source, credits & more information: EchoPress